What Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s could have done (1)

I have written a lot of blog posts now on the failures of Leicester City Council and Sainsbury’s in the design and implementation of the new junction on the Melton Road at Troon way/Watermead Way because it is appallingly bad. There is probably at least one more critical post to come about actually getting to the Superstore by bike. So if you haven’t seen these posts have a look:

The thing that is really frustrating is that it could easily have been so different. On the east side (where Sainsburys is) there is lots and lots of space.

So my first suggestion for what Sainsbury’s could have done is very simple. They could have re-connected the old 1930′s segregated cycle track alongside the Melton Road so that it stayed as a segregated track running all the way through the junction.

They could have copied the design of the new segregated cycle track they have put in on Newarke Street where there is a colour and grade separation between the cycle track and the footway. See that in this video:

Then at all the crossings they could have copied the design of the “super crossing” near the station where a toucan crossing is both very wide and straight as it crosses the Central Ring dual carriageway.

The cycle track and footway would have needed to curve away from the Melton Road slightly from just north of the Sainsbury’s entrance to just south of Troon Way in order to allow the toucan crossings to be straight. This would have also allowed the cycle track to bypass behind the bus stop as they always do in the Netherlands.

The new left turning lane into Troon Way would have needed to be made a little more separated in order to line up the crossings. The central refuge of the Troon Way crossing would have needed to be a little wider so that the cattle pens could be removed and the crossing be straight.

None of this would have cost very much in the context of the whole junction.

The problems with the other side of the junction could have also been solved very simply by

  • upgrading the existing 1930′s cycle track on the Sainsbury’s side from Thurmaston to Belgrave.
  • upgrading one Melton Road crossing north of the junction and one south to supercrossings (with linked lights)

As part of this the Council could have reasonably resurfaced the 80 year old segregated cycle track on the east side of the Melton Road all the way from Manor Road in Thurmaston to the entrance to Rushey Fields in Belgrave (just south of the vehicle entrance into Rushey Mead Secondary School). Most of that cycle track has not been resurfaced in 80 years and now the concrete slabs have big steps between them. While resurfacing it could have been widened into it’s grass verge, been given priority over side roads and entrances by running it across a hump as existing standards allow (there are only about 4 needed) and bus stop bypasses installed.

If that work had been done then I am confident many people would be content to use this as a fast two way cycle route along the Melton Road and when travelling North would cross from the west side to ride the whole length on the east side. Therefore a crossing of Watermead Way would no longer be an issue.

[Update]

I feel I should have made it clearer that my suggestion is not just about this junction but about how it connects and how it can contribute to a wider network.

My suggestion connects at the north end with a scheme (that has a significant number of design issues itself) provided by Leicestershire County Council. With a naff bit of shared pavement you can get past the health centre and shops at the Humberstone Lane junction and then use the route along the Thurmaston bypass which is partially on a 20mph limit road (a speed limit that is widely ignored) and then on a shared footway to Thurmaston Shopping Centre. From there the quality goes down again and you have a section of poor shared footway to the mini roundabout at Fosse Way where you are abandoned.

At the south end of my suggestion there is the possibility of using Lanesborough Road to connect to Bath Street and join the Sustrans route through Abbey Park. There are only two problems with this. a) the bit between Thurcaston Rd and Abbey Pumping Station floods a lot and b) there is no safe route into the City once you get to the Central Ring Road.

A signposted alternative for cyclists at the southern end is to go through Rushey Fields and along Harrison Road. I only recommend this if your destination is on Harrison Road and you are a confident cyclist with a death wish. It is horrible!

More frequently these days I tend to go straight along the Melton Road/Belgrave Road. It is unpleasant but it is fast. I find it easier going towards the city than away from it though. This is the Golden Mile in Leicester, it has exciting vibrant shops and restaurants but ends being dominated by a combination of parked and speeding motorised vehicles. The road could be made so much more attractive to visit by reducing it to a single lane of motor vehicles in each direction with protected segregated cycle tracks and wider pavements with outside seating for the restaurants in the summer.

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  1. Agree, shocking missed opportunity. Sainsbury’s list two of its 5 key values as – 1. Making a positive difference to our community 2.Respect for our environment. They also have PR spin on reducing carbon footprint.

    As a side note, I came up to the roundabout at toon way / barkby road /thurmaston lane last week at around 6.30pm and a car was going round it the wrong way!

  2. We tried cycling down ridiculous new ‘cycle’ path on Newarke Street last night at 7.15 pm. Dodging the car parked on it and all the pedestrians was far more dangerous to us and them than riding on the road. Still, Soulsby has achieved his real intention of creating more congestion in order to bring his dream of introducing a congestion charge a little closer. What another huge waste of our money.

    • John,
      I don’t agree. If

      a) they install some kind of barrier (eg armadillos or planters) to keep vehicles off the cycle track (as they have promised to do if parking is a problem, and it clearly is) and
      b) if they sort out the city end so that you can get on and off the cycle track safely

      then I think it is a huge improvement. Not least because it is two way which means getting from the city to De Montfort is much easier. Before this Newarke St was a horrible drag strip to cycle along, cars accelerated so fast to well beyond the speed limit.

      I do not see how this can create more congestion in the long term. Firstly, both roads leading to it are only 2 lanes so they set the capacity. Secondly, more road space always creates more traffic and hence more congestion. We need to take more and more road space from vehicles in order to reduce their numbers.

  3. Despite all the posts Sainsbury’s forgot some signs | 42 Bikes - pingback on November 30, 2013 at 10:07 am
  4. Sainsbury’s and lost desire (lines) | 42 Bikes - pingback on December 3, 2013 at 1:00 am
  5. Sainsbury’s show consideration for Cyclists safety | 42 Bikes - pingback on December 3, 2013 at 1:06 am
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